Given Isla Mujeres ’s popularity with backpackers and people with generally relaxed attitudes, it’s not surprising to find that the nightlife here tends strongly toward the bohemian, with live music and laid-back bars. But nonbohos needn’t despair—there’s something for everyone, including a dance club and even a Texan joint that’s an unlikely Isla Mujeres institution.
Popular with locals and travelers of all ages, La Luna (Av. Guerrero at Av. Bravo, tel. 998/704-7920, 7 a.m.–4 a.m. daily) is a popular bar without attitude featuring palapa-covered and open-air spaces with low lighting and impressive twisted roble chairs. The rambling place has nooks here and there for chilling out or having a bite to eat, a back deck that overlooks the ocean, and a dance floor the opens up to the night sky. On Wednesday and Saturday, a live salsa band gets the crowd moving—come with your dancing shoes on (or just kick off your flip-flops). Music starts at 9:30 p.m.
Om (Av. Matamoros near Av. Juárez, tel. 998/820-4876, 7 p.m.–midnight daily) has low tables, mellow lighting, and cool tunes, including reggae, bossa nova, and blues. A full bar serves drinks of all sorts, including the house specialty, la viuda express (the widow express): tequila, Baileys, Kahlúa, a shot of espresso, and sugar.
At the north end of Playa Norte , Buho’s (end of Av. Carlos Lazo, no phone, 9 a.m.–11 p.m. daily) is a classic beachfront watering hole, with swings instead of bar stools, shells and buoys as decoration, and hammocks and lounge chairs within easy reach. Happy hour runs 2–5 p.m. daily and features two-for-one beers and cocktails.
Fayne’s (Hidalgo 12, tel. 998/877-0528, 5 p.m.–midnight daily, no cover) features live nightly music, mostly Caribbean, but with a smattering of rock and reggae acts as well. The high palapa roof and spacious bar area make it equally suited for dancing or just chilling out; you can even order dinner here, from pasta to seafood. Thursday to Sunday are the busiest nights, often with two bands starting as early as 6 p.m.; otherwise, things get hopping around 10 p.m.
Down the street, the tiki-bar-themed She Bar (Av. Hidalgo near Av. López Mateos, tel. 998/125-1772, 7 p.m.–3 a.m. daily, no cover) features cover bands, seemingly with a penchant for Johnny Cash, though salsa makes the cut, too.
JAX Bar and Grill (Av. López Mateos at Av. Rueda Medina, tel. 998/877-1254, www.jaxsportfishing.com/bar.asp , 8 a.m.–11 p.m. daily, no cover) has catered to Isla’s yacht crews and visiting Joe Six-Packs for years, with utilitarian breakfasts and burgers during the day and live country blues and classic rock bands playing nightly during the high season (9–11 p.m.). While it’s not everyone’s scene—you won’t see too many dreadlocked backpackers here—those who like it come back again and again. Closed in September.
Live salsa bands hit the stage at La Luna (Av. Guerrero at Av. Bravo, tel. 998/704-7920, 7 a.m.–4 a.m. daily) every Wednesday and Saturday night at 9:30 p.m. The rest of the week, count on DJs spinning everything from electric to Latin pop.
The Casa de la Cultura (Av. Guerrero at Av. Abasolo, tel. 998/877-0639, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. Mon.–Sat.) is a publicly funded organization that offers free or subsidized artistic workshops geared toward children and adolescents. Classes include dance, painting, ceramics, and singing.